The Mariners’ operating income declined 31.8 percent last year to $11.6 million, according to Forbes magazine in its annual financial report on Major League Baseball.
Only five of MLB’s 30 clubs made less money.
Forbes contends the drop occurred even though the Mariners showed a 6.6-percent jump last year in revenue to $289 million.
Those findings suggest the Mariners are investing greater amounts in the club, which is a continuing trend. Forbes reported the franchise’s operating income was $17 million in 2015 and $26.4 million in 2014.
Forbes also places the franchise’s value at $1.4 billion, which matches the assessed value last year when a group of board members, led by new chairman and chief executive officer John Stanton, purchased controlling interest from Nintendo.
That value is up 17 percent over the previous year, from $1.2 billion, and ranks 14th among the 30 clubs. A year ago, the Mariners ranked 12th in franchise value; they were 14th in Forbes’ 2014 calculations.
The magazine defines franchise value as the value of the club based on its current stadium deal without deduction for debt other than stadium debt.
Notably, the calculations do not include the value of any regional television network a club might own, but they do include any rights fees. The Mariners own 71 percent of Root Sports, which was part of the assessed value in last year’s sale.
Major League Baseball does not release it financial reports and has long disputed Forbes’ annual findings.
The Mariners rank fourth in franchise value among the five American League West Division clubs.
The Los Angeles Angels are first (and eighth overall) at $1.75 billion, followed by the Texas Rangers (11th) at $1.55 billion and Houston (13th) at $1.45 billion. Oakland is 29th at $880 million.
The New York Yankees retained their status as the sport’s most valuable franchise at $3.7 billion. They remained ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are valued at $2.75 billion after operating losses of $20.5 million.
The rest of the top five: Boston at $2.7 billion, the Chicago Cubs at $2.675 billion and San Francisco at $2.65 billion. The bottom three are Cincinnati at $915 million, Oakland and Tampa Bay at $825 million.
Forbes reports placed the the Mariners’ value at $373 million in 2002, the year after the club’s most recent postseason appearance. The franchise’s value has jumped nearly 275 percent over the last 15 years.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners